Nearly $100 million worth of new initiatives to address the state’s teacher shortages will be in play during state budget negotiations that will begin in earnest next week.
The Assembly is pushing for their inclusion. In its version of the 2017-18 spending plan, the Assembly Budget Committee last week approved five proposals, totaling $85 million, that primarily would create incentives for more science, math, special education and bilingual teachers in low-performing districts. Those are the subjects most affected by the shortage, which is not felt uniformly statewide. Regions hardest hit are Los Angeles and the Bay Area.
But the Assembly’s proposals may find themselves competing with a smaller scale plan, tapping $11 million in federal money. Gov. Jerry Brown included that plan in his May budget revision. The Senate Budget Committee included no money earmarked for the teacher shortage in the budget it passed.
Brown included no new money in his January budget to alleviate the teacher shortage, which primarily is hitting rural districts, high-cost regions like the Bay Area and Los Angeles and specific subject areas: science, math, and special education. Instead, Brown’s budget highlighted the $35 million investments passed last year. They include $20 million in financial incentives for classified workers to pursue a teaching credential, $10 million for universities to set up programs offering an undergraduate degree and a teaching credential in four years instead of five, and $5 million to revive a statewide teacher recruitment effort, the California Center on Teaching Careers.
Representatives of the Department of Finance said Brown wanted to see those programs roll out before adding new programs. But in the revised budget, Brown is proposing to create the California Educator Development program or CalED. It would fund 30 partnerships, ranging from $100,000 to $1.25 million, between school districts, charter schools and county offices of education and community colleges, universities or nonprofits to promote and develop teachers in high-needs fields and districts that have issued high numbers of emergency teaching credentials. The $11 million program would require matching money from grant recipients. The state portion would come from the state’s 2017-18 teacher training and development funding under federal Title II. President Donald Trump this week proposed eliminating the entire $2.4 billion program.
Proposed funding in the Assembly budget would include:
- An additional $25 million to expand the credentialing program for classified employees in the current budget;
- $25 million for districts to create teacher residency programs, which have a record of effectively helping to train and retain teachers. Located in more than a dozen districts already, residencies provide financial help and internships for aspiring teachers in the year they obtain their teaching credential, then mentoring for their first year or two in the classroom;
- $25 million for a new Golden State Teacher Grant Program, championed by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, in Assembly Bill 169. It would provide $20,000 in financial assistance to new STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) teachers who commit to teach four years in low-performing schools;
- $10 million in professional development funding for bilingual teachers, who are expected to be in serious short supply as a result of the passage last year of Proposition 58, rescinding the ban on bilingual education.
The Assembly Budget Committee would fund the new teacher programs from the $1 billion in one-time money that Brown has proposed giving districts to spend as they choose. While budgeting that money for 2017-18, Brown wants to withhold the money until May 2019 in order to ensure that state revenue comes through as projected. Both the Senate and the Assembly budget committees are calling for giving districts the money next year – likely a big point of contention in budget negotiations.
Assembly members Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, and Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, two members of the education subcommittee of the Assembly Budget Committee who advocated for the teacher shortage proposals, will be among the conferees named to negotiate a budget with their Senate counterparts. The Legislature is required to pass a budget by June 15 for Brown’s consideration.